Comparisons of Weekly Hours over the Past Century and the Importance of Work-Sharing Policies in the 1930s

Todd C Neumann, Jason E Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

During the Great Depression of 1930s, changes in the workweek drove a larger portion of changes in total labor input than in other decades. Work-sharing policies appear to be responsible. Hoover created various work-sharing committees lead by key industrialists, which pushed for shorter workweeks and Roosevelt’s President’s Reemployment Agreement called for sharp cuts in weekly hours. The hope was to spread available work amongst more people. While between 50 and 90 percent of declines in labor input were accommodated by falling hours during these periods, in recent decades employers have primarily relied on layoffs to achieve the same end.

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